Macquarie set to begin Brussels Airport sales process

The airport is jointly held by its MEIF1 and MEIF3 funds alongside the Belgian government and OTPP, with the latter believed not to be among the bidders.

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets is set to launch a sales process for its 36 percent ownership of Brussels Airport, Infrastructure Investor understands.

The Macquarie Group has been a shareholder of the hub since 2004, initially through its listed MAp Airports vehicle before introducing its 2004-vintage Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund and its 2008-vintage Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 3 to the ownership structure.

MEIF1 now owns 10 percent of the Belgian airport and MEIF3 owns 26 percent. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the largest shareholder with 39 percent, while the Belgian government retains 25 percent. OTPP is understood to have waived its pre-emption rights. It is thought a deal could be wrapped up within six months.

Macquarie also owned Copenhagen Airport alongside OTPP and the Danish government before its €1.3 billion sale to pension group ATP last year.

The expected sales price of MIRA’s stake is unclear at this stage. Brussels Airport recorded a €305 million EBITDA in 2017 and recent European airport EBITDA multiples have fluctuated. The Copenhagen sale is thought to have been made at 20 times, AMP Capital’s acquisition of Leeds Bradford last year is believed to have been at 26 times, while Ardian’s offloading of a 49 percent share in London Luton to AMP in April is understood to be at a 17 times multiple.

Brussels Airport is the last remaining asset in MEIF1, a €1.5 billion fund posting a net IRR of 11.2 percent and money multiple of 2.1 times as at the end of last year, according to US pension documents. MEIF3, a €1.2 billion vehicle, was recording a 10.1 percent IRR and a 2.2 times multiple at the same stage. MEIF3 also still retains a 13.5 percent share in Czech telecoms group České Radiokomunikace, an asset owned alongside MEIF2, which holds 73 percent.

Passenger numbers at the Brussels site have increased from 15.6 million in 2004 to 24.8 million in 2017, with last year’s 13.6 percent growth the second largest increase since privatisation in 2004. Numbers fell by 7 percent in 2016 following a terrorist attack at the airport.

Macquarie declined to comment on the potential sale.